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Six Spices: A Simple Concept of Indian Cooking
     

Six Spices: A Simple Concept of Indian Cooking

by Neeta Saluja
 

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The art of Indian cuisine at your fingertips.

Neeta Saluja simplifies Indian cooking with a unique approach to its preparation. She focuses on the fundamentals—the special ingredients and techniques every cook can use to create fragrant, delicious, and well balanced dishes.

Six Spices demystifies the exotic and complex flavors of Indian cuisine by

Overview


The art of Indian cuisine at your fingertips.

Neeta Saluja simplifies Indian cooking with a unique approach to its preparation. She focuses on the fundamentals—the special ingredients and techniques every cook can use to create fragrant, delicious, and well balanced dishes.

Six Spices demystifies the exotic and complex flavors of Indian cuisine by explaining the characteristics of its essential ingredients—hot chili powder,
aromatic coriander, sweet cumin, roasted nutty mustard seeds, bold asafetida, and hearty turmeric. But here is the twist: the book also reveals the methods used to incorporate them into exquisite, authentic recipes.

Keeping clarity and simplicity in mind, Saluja has created recipes easy enough for beginners, yet inspirational enough to encourage inventiveness in the more seasoned cook.

Readers will discover that seasoning with chounk is one of the basic techniques used to enhance the flavor of beans and legumes. A dish of red lentils will become memorable when infused with aromatic seasoning of hot ghee, fresh herbs, and spices; and cooking with masala, or curry paste, can turn a humble dish into the essence of Indian cuisine.

Saluja has taken the fear out of approaching unfamiliar culinary fare. Her recipe collection has been tasted and tested throughout her more than twenty years of teaching and cooking Indian food.

Editorial Reviews

The Onion
Culinary instructor Neeta Saluja makes the subcontinent's cuisine even more accessible with her idiot-proof book Six Spices.

Philadelphia Inquirer
If you enjoy Indian cuisine you will appreciate the straightforward approach and easy recipes in Neeta Saluja's book Six Spices.

Capital Times
Neeta Saluja's advice comes down to this: Simplify

Wisconsin State Journal
Count the spices called for in Indian recipes and, somewhere before a dozen, most cooks are going to give up and eat out to satisfy curry cravings. But they could start with a new cookbook that reflects everyday Indian cooking.

Kansas City Star
[This book} takes great pains to ease fears, with a section dedicated to cooking tips and making one's own spice blends.
Sunday London Times
Inspiring and informative.
From the Publisher

Praise for the previous edition of Six Spices:

Cookbook Selection, New York Times Book Review, Summer Reading Issue

“If you enjoy Indian cuisine you will appreciate the straightforward approach and easy recipes.” —Philadelphia Inquirer

“Nicely illustrated and well formatted, this is a good resource for those looking for an introduction to authentic Indian cooking.” —Library Journal

“Culinary instructor Neeta Saluja makes the subcontinent’s cuisine even more accessible with her idiot-proof book Six Spices.” —The Onion

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780976353997
Publisher:
Jones Books
Publication date:
07/01/2007
Pages:
176
Product dimensions:
8.10(w) x 9.60(h) x 0.80(d)

Read an Excerpt


INTRODUCTION

When I arrived in Australia from the city of Bhopal in the central province of India, the weather was cold and blustery. I felt alone in an unfamiliar land and among people I did not know. I thought I knew English, but in Sydney it was spoken with an accent that was hard for me to understand. Almost immediately, I regretted leaving friends and my native land. But these feelings soon passed as I was reunited with my parents, who had immigrated to Australia the previous year. Once I arrived, I was happy to learn that my mother had kept the Indian traditions alive. To welcome me, she had prepared a hearty meal of hot simmering dal, steaming rice, spicy curry, and warm chapatis. What a wonderful surprise!

To make this meal, Mom had special ordered the spices, lentils, and other essential ingredients from India. Every few months she would have them shipped so she could continue to serve us food that was familiar. She quickly learned to adapt her recipes by incorporating local ingredients and fresh produce into her daily cooking. We began to enjoy vegetables like broccoli, brussels sprouts, and zucchini prepared with the spices we’d always known.

That was back in the 1970s. In recent years, ethnic food has become tremendously popular. Besides Italian, Chinese, and Mexican restaurants, we now see Thai, Turkish, Japanese, and Indian cuisine available in towns and cities across the United States. Today, both casual diners and connoisseurs can enjoy the spicy and aromatic Indian cuisine. Some Indian restaurants serve authentic dishes while others offer fusion foods, adapting and combing ingredients and techniques from different cultures and countries to make even more creative menu offerings. In my travels, I’ve tasted a hint of curry powder in many pasta dishes served at Italian restaurants in Japan. Japanese supermarkets sold a special curry mix to prepare a popular Japanese curry-rise dish. And the renowned Restaurant Raji in Memphis creates French-Indian fusion delicacies.

In the last few years, I have noticed a surge in the number of Indian restaurants in my adopted home of Madison, Wisconsin, and in neighboring towns. New specialty stores and even grocery chains are offering good selections of spices, beans, basmati rice, and other essential food items from India. Accessibility and availability of these ingredients used in India cooking have instilled a desire in Americans to venture into a new world of cooking with spices. They long to learn to create the mouth-watering curries they’ve tasted at Indian restaurants and to incorporate more beans and lentils into their diets. Coriander and cumin become part of their collection of spices. Some simply want to learn new culinary skills.

Driven by the increased interest, food stores, cooking school, and community colleges are offering cooking classes in ethnic cuisine and bookstores are carrying a wide selection of ethnic cookbooks. When I began searching for a good Indian cookbook, however, I found that most were written either as memoirs with few recipes or as books with scores of recipes. Those recipes often consisted of long lists of spices and unfamiliar ingredients combined with little instruction on how to use them. The various regional cuisines of India created further confusion for a beginner. Finding the right Indian cookbook was both challenging and overwhelming.

Encouraged by the keen interest of many friends and students in my cooking classes, I decided to write a reliable Indian cookbook with simple, easy-to-follow instructions for some of my favorite authentic recipes. Although basic enough for beginners, my recipes will still inspire the creativity of more seasoned cooks.

Keeping clarity and simplicity in mind, I developed a unique way to present my recipes, relying on basic spices and similar cooking techniques. In my own kitchen I often use fewer spices than called for in a recipe, so the recipes I selected require no more than six spices to create tasty dishes. Most of the recipes are based upon four cooking techniques: seasoning with hot oil, seasoning with hot ghee, cooking with powdered spices, and cooking with curry paste.

In chapters 2 through 5, I give you an overview of each technique. The recipes that follow have been tested and tasted many times throughout my fifteen years of teaching experience. After twenty-five years of sampling my recipes, my family and friends still look forward to my meals.

I have included an additional chapter of recipes, “Beyond the Basics,” with my favorite breads, snacks, drinks, and desserts to complete a meal. The “Tips and Techniques” chapter contains detailed information about uncommon ingredients and instructs you on how to use them.

My hope is that this book will become a valuable resource as you experience the joy of Indian cooking. With it as your guide, you soon will be preparing simple and satisfying home-cooked, Indian-style meals. Each recipe is sufficient to feed four people. To serve more, you can easily double the amounts.

Six Spices: A Simple Concept of Indian Cooking introduces you to the concept of spices and guides you in the preparation of healthy, delicious authentic Indian meals.

Shubharambh (pleasant start)!

Meet the Author


Neeta Saluja, born in Agra, India, home of the Taj Mahal, has been teaching Indian cooking for more than two decades in the United States, Australia, and Japan. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin, with her husband.

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